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White House spokesmen said on Sunday that there would be no prosecutions of those involved in writing legal memos or making policy that embraced torture. But on Tuesday, in the midst of a press opportunity with the visiting Jordanian king, Obama did an abrupt about-face, denying he was prejudging the matter and insisting that the ball was fully in Attorney General Holder’s court. What was behind this dramatic turn-around? I give a glimpse under the tent in this account in The Daily Beast.
Senior Justice Department lawyers were “incensed” at the Emanuel and Gibbs statements, as one put it—not because they disagreed with Obama’s apparent opposition to an investigation and prosecution, but because the statements violated well established rules separating political figures in the White House from decisions about active criminal cases. The statements were viewed as a frontal assault on the autonomy and independence of the criminal justice system. “Emanuel got far ahead of the process and described it in a way that clearly suggested that political judgment was driving the entire process,” one senior Justice official told me. “It was depressing and amateurish.”
Holder is now close to a decision on whether to appoint a special prosecutor to look into torture allegations, and Rahm Emanuel’s misstep may have the ironic consequence of tipping the issue in the other direction.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Estimated number of people who watched a live Webcast of a hair transplant last fall:
A rancher in Texas was developing a system that will permit hunters to kill animals by remote control via a website.
A man in Japan was arrested for stealing a prospective employer’s wallet during a job interview, and a court in Germany ruled that it is safe for a woman with breast implants to be a police officer.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."